BEREZOVSKY’S BROTH

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BEREZOVSKY’S BROTH

Moskovsky Komsomolets, August 1, 2001, p. 1

Tycoon Boris Berezovsky recently announced his intention to place his 75% stake in the TV-6 television company under the management of Media-Most – more specifically, Yevgeny Kiselev. Kiselev is general director of TV-6 and a member of the Media-Most board.

To trace Berezovsky’s reasons for this action, it is necessary to keep in mind his favorite tactics: he is mad about his Napoleonic plans. In fact, this action is yet another PR smoke-screen.

Some months ago, Berezovsky had an idea to set up a management trust for his ORT shares. The same cover story has been composed for TV-6. These stories are only aimed at influencing the gullible. As it turns out, there are many such people in Russia, and even in the West.

The West, which has been closely observing the NTV network scandal, believes that it’s vitally important for Russian defenders of free speech to remain pure – untainted by any involvement with the disreputable Berezovsky. Otherwise, the ambiguity of the situation would not permit the West to publicly defend Russian human rights advocates.

But lo and behold! Berezovsky is washing his hands of those shares, and from now on he will not control TV-6. All that remains is to believe it.

SUMMIT OF TEN

Trud, August 1, 2001, EV

An informal summit of heads of CIS countries will open in Sochi on August 1. Only President Eduard Shevardnadze of Georgia and President Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan will not attend the summit.

President Vladimir Putin will receive his CIS counterparts in Dagomys. According to unofficial sources, Shevardnadze is simply not ready for a constructive dialogue with the Russian president. The absence of Niyazov will be most surprising for President Geidar Aliev of Azerbaijan, since they were to hold a bilateral meeting in Sochi and discuss the issue of Azerbaijan’s $60 million debt to Turkmenistan.

Around 120 journalists will cover the Sochi summit. They have been told that the main aim of the event is to exchange opinions on a wide range of issues in relations between CIS countries.

On August 1, Putin will meet with President Emomali Rakhmonov of Tajikistan, President Robert Kocharyan of Armenia, President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan, President Askar Akaev of Kyrgyzstan, and President Vladimir Voronin of Moldova.

The joint meeting will take place on August 2.

LET’S BE TOLERANT

Trud, August 1, 2001, EV

On August 2, the Cabinet will consider a federal program for development of tolerance of different ways of life, religions, ethnic groups, languages, etc. This document also includes some measures aimed at preventing extremism in Russian society.

Opinion polls indicate that around a third of Russians feel a special antipathy toward certain ethnic groups. Most Russians simply have a negative or slightly negative attitude toward some ethnic groups – such as Gypsies, Chechens, and Azerbaijanis. Most of them have never thought about their reasons for holding these views.

The program includes special educational programs for all Russian schools and other educational institutions, regular monitoring of social tension, psychological assistance for refugees, etc. The issues are included in the items titled “The Individual, the Family, and Society”.

There is also an item titled “The State”, setting out an effective state policy aimed at preventing ethnic, social, and religious conflict. Overall, 397.65 million rubles will be spent on this program.

PRIVATIZATION APPROACHING

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, August 1, 2001, EV

On August 1, the Cabinet will consider socio-economic development results for the first half of this year, and prospects for the upcoming privatization of state-controlled property.

According to the Economic Development and Trade Ministry, several distinct trends have been observed over the past six months. Consumer demand is growing, which implies rising living standards. However, it is not always easy to satisfy this demand, since the supply of goods produced in Russia lags behind demand. Shortages are partly compensated by imported goods.

There are also a few negative trends. For instance, the expenditures of some enterprises are growing faster than their revenues. Russia’s position in some export markets is slipping.

In the first half of this year, GDP grew by 5.4% compared to the corresponding period of 2000. This was due to growth in industrial output (5.5%), construction, and trade.

If the pessimistic forecasts of some economists are borne out, privatization may turn out to be the major revenue source for the federal budget. But Russia will soon have to face a peak in foreign debt payments.

In 2001, 3,500 state-run enterprises are to be privatized. According to the government’s plans, this will bring in 31.4 billion rubles. Around 18 billion rubles will come from the sale of state-controlled stakes in enterprises, and the remainder from privatization of state-run unitary enterprises.

Consumer spending increased by 10% in the first half of 2001 compared to the first half of 2000. Business revenues fell by 3.7% in this period compared to the corresponding period of 2000.

MALIKA GEZIMIEVA REBELS AGAINST EVERYONE

Izvestia, August 1, 2001, p. 1

Nikolai Britvin, deputy presidential envoy for the Southern federal district, told us on July 31 that there have been no irregularities related to the dismissal of Malika Gezimieva, the administrative chief of the Gudermes district in Chechnya. However, Gezimieva is surprised about the stand taken by the federal authorities, and intends to complain to President Putin.

Gezimieva does not agree that she has reached retirement age. She says that during the deportation of Chechens in the Stalin era, Chechens often overstated their children’s age, and this is what her parents did. Gezimieva says she knows for sure that she is only 57 years old.

Gezimieva considers that the real cause of her dismissal is that some of the senior officials in Chechnya don’t like her activities.

Britvin said that Gezimieva simply was not on friendly terms with the Chechen administration. However, the order relieving Gezimieva of her duties – signed by Ahmad Kadyrov, head of the Chechen administration – was entirely in accordance with the law.

RUSSIA THREATENED BY POLISH RESTITUTION

Izvestia, August 1, 2001, p. 3

Former owners of real estate in Poland who were deprived of their property under socialism are demanding that their property should be returned to them. Among the sites that might change hands in the near future are buildings housing the Russian Embassy in Warsaw.

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